Patricia Canessa, PhD
Executive Director / Salud Latina/Latino Health
Director of Diversity and Health Equity / Illinois Public Health Association

Patricia Canessa is Executive Director of Salud Latina/Latino Health, a capacity building organization that was established in Illinois 25 years ago to serve the Midwestern region. She also serves as Director of Diversity and Health Equity at the Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA). She is a two-time graduate of Northwestern University in Illinois with degrees in family intervention and executive management. She is an accomplished researcher in the fields of ethnography and public health. She has designed and integrated evidence-based interventions into several models to address chronic diseases and the prevention of communicable diseases and disorders that are associated with behavioral risk.

Dr. Canessa is an active advocate of the Latino community. She serves as an expert consultant to numerous local and state public health departments, academic institutions, and community planning groups to identify assets and gaps that impact the delivery of HIV prevention and care services to Latinos. In her position at IPHA, she has influenced policy to secure access to care on behalf of undocumented persons and individuals who are unable to pay for medical insurance.

Dr. Canessa leads several statewide Latino network initiatives to improve population-based data collection; disseminate evidence-based models; implement successful community practices; and advocate for increased resources to diminish the risk of HIV and a broad range of chronic conditions in vulnerable migrant and immigrant populations. She also is a recognized leader in the national Latino AIDS advocacy movement.

Dr. Canessa has extensive international health experience in the fields of maternal and child health, adolescent health, child survival, and human rights. She previously worked with the World Health Organization and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities.